If someone leaves the church, does he or she actually leave God? I cannot find anything in the scriptures to support this. What do you think about this?
People leave church for all sorts of reasons:
* Abusive treatment -- they may feel used rather than respected, or feel they have no advocate in the midst of relational conflict.
* Spiritual starvation -- they are not fed with the scriptures, since church programs dominate and nourishing Bible teaching is crowded out.
* Longing for the world -- they miss the "freedom" of the old life (2 Peter 2:19-22).
The sad fact remains, while many leave the church because they are allured by the world and do not value a relationship with God, a number leave because they are striving to preserve their relationship with God. They feel it is under assault in the local congregation, and they leave the church (ironically) not in order to leave God, but to find him!
Of course, since the church is the body of Christ, if we cut ourselves off, we will miss out on the teaching, fellowship, communion, and prayer which are vital to spiritual growth (Acts 2:42). We will not more survive than will the amputated limb. Of course, if we found another church holding to the truth -- one really teaching the gospel, not perverting it (Galatians 1:6ff) -- then we would certainly still be saved. No one has a monopoly on the truth. But I believe you are asking about the spiritual condition of someone who quits the local congregation.
Now you may ask, How long does someone need to be absent before he is back in the darkness? The exact point at which someone has left God is impossible to say. Similarly, it is as hard to pin down as to specify the exact age at which someone is ready to study the scriptures and become a Christian. (Age 12? 15?) Doesn't it all depend on the individual? I only know that if we walk away from the truth, if we walk away from the fellowship, it is going to be very hard to survive spiritually. Easy for a coal to keep glowing whilst in the fire and with the other coals; hard to retain the fervor on our own.
In short, leaving the local church is not the same as leaving God. We are all bound by conscience and the Bible, and sometimes people in good faith have made the very difficult decision to walk away from their friends and the church. God is their judge. If they are not part of a biblical fellowship, eventually they will die (spiritually). But it is not for us to pronounce this judgment.
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